ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:
First Lady Michelle Obama, Malia, Sasha…and even Bo Obama spent the afternoon at the Children’s National Medical Center in Northwest Washington, DC this afternoon, continuing a tradition dating back to Bess Truman.
A child in the audience wanted to know how the holidays would be different this year for the Obama family, their first in the White House.
"Well um, it will be easier to get on the plane than last year,” Sasha giggled, “But I don’t think anything will be very different.”
The First Lady explained that every year their family goes to Hawaii – and they will this year as well. “As soon as all the work here is done we’ll go there,” Mrs. Obama said, commenting that she didn’t think her children had never missed a Christmas in Hawaii.
“No there’s that one Christmas,” Malia promptly correcting her mother, likely in reference to the Christmas of 2007uwhen the Obamas spent Christmas in Chicago, so their father could be out on the campaign trail just days later in Iowa.
Another child in the audience was interested to know what they would give the President for Christmas.
"I can't tell," the First Lady answered quickly, pointing to press in the back of the room. Sasha assured everyone - through some more laughter - that she got her dad “something he likes.”
Another child was curious to know how many Christmas trees do they have at the White House.
"Unfortunately we don't get presents under all of them," Malia said of the 26 trees at the White House. Sasha interjected that they have a special tree – the “Wishing Tree” – the first year of a tradition that the Obamas hope to start at the White House.
“It is made out of cardboard and so you can write down a wish and you can roll it up and you can put it in the holes and it might come true,” Sasha said.
During the reading portion of the program it was Bo Obama, dressed festively in a red and white collar with jingle bells, who stole the show. The First Lady read “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” by Clement Clarke Moore pausing at first to get First Dog Bo Obama in line after he started barking.
“Get him a treat,” the First lady said, prompting Malia to hand over a zip-lock bags of treats in hopes to quiet their dog. After a while it was obvious it was not a treat that Bo was barking about, but rather the Santa Claus on stage.
“He is really a guard dog I guess,” Malia Obama said. The Santa changed positions on stage to the other side, much to Bo’s liking. After The First Lady finished reading, Sasha and Malia took turns reading alternating pages of the book, Snowmen at Night, by Caralyn Buehner. T
At one point Malia read about a snowman sledding down a mountain, “wahoo they all yell,” Malia exclaimed, “extending the wahoooooo!”
Everyone laughed and the First Lady asked her oldest daughter to regale them again.
“Wahooooo!” Malia yelled again smiling.
Beforehand the First Lady and her daughters visited patients in the 26-bed Heart and Kidney Unit. Bo Obama mingled with the 200 patients and hospital staff in the audience. A hospital worker followed behind Bo offering a squirt of anti-bacterial lotion.